After installation FAQ

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AFTER YOU’VE GONE SOLAR

Questions and answers about your solar energy system

You’ve got solar panels on your house. The inverter is humming along. Now what?

We’ve compiled some of the questions we get asked most about our systems after they’ve been installed.

Also check out our other FAQ pages:

How does the referral program work?

More than half of our business comes from referrals!

It’s simple—tell your neighbors, friends, and family in both Washington and Oregon about us. Make sure they mention your name when they contact us. If they get a system, you both get a cash bonus of up to $500 ($100 per kW of their system size) after their project is complete.

My system isn’t producing as much energy as when it was cloudy. What gives?

Production depends on a number of factors.

While it would seem obvious that hot, sunny summer days would result in the most production, that isn’t the case. In the summer months, the sun is directly overhead, which isn’t always an optimal angle for production. Additionally, solar panels operate more efficiently at cooler temperatures. For these reasons, PV systems typically have their best days in April and May when the sun is angled better to pitched roofs and the weather is relatively cool.

What paperwork do I have to submit?

A&R Solar submits all of your paperwork, including those for certification for state incentives, local permitting requirements, and interconnection with your utility.

Most Washington utilities require an annual application for your yearly production incentive payment based on how much energy your system produced for the year. The best course is to follow the instructions they send you and to contact your utility directly if you have any questions.

Can I view my energy generation and consumption?

There are a couple of ways you can do this.

The typical way is to look at your inverter to see how much power your system is producing at any given time. Some inverters also track cumulative production over various periods of time. You can then compare this information to your historical and future utility bills to see how much energy you are producing versus consuming.

Another option is to have an eGauge monitoring system installed, which allows you to view your home’s energy production and consumption on your computer or mobile device. Your information is stored securely, so don’t worry about your neighbors peeking in. Unless you’re in to that sort of thing, in which case you can provide them with a public link showing your system’s performance in real time. Let the competition begin!

The eGauge system can be installed later, so contact us if you are interested in learning more.

Do I need a battery storage system?

It depends. If you live in an area with frequent power outages or want to be prepared in case of an earthquake, you may want to consider investing in a battery-backup solar system.

This would allow you to power some of your house with solar energy during an outage. A&R Solar has experience designing and installing battery systems throughout Washington and one of our design consultants can help you determine whether one is right for you.

Learn more about battery storage.

How much maintenance of my PV system is required?

Not much. Even if you slack off, your solar energy system will operate effectively.

If you want your system to soak up its maximum potential, hose off the panels and collectors once or twice a year, preferably in the morning while your panels are still cool. This can boost performance, especially if pollen, dirt, or debris has accumulated. If there is buildup on your panels, use a soft brush like the one you would use to wash your car along with a mild detergent. Do not pressure wash your panels and never run cold water over a hot array. If you’re not sure about doing this yourself, we offer cleaning and maintenance services in some areas. Otherwise, many local window and gutter cleaning companies can perform this work.

In addition to keeping your system clean, you should always keep an eye on your system’s production and look for any significant changes in output. If you notice anything that might be out of the ordinary, please give us a call and let us know.

Will my PV system work when the power goes out?

No. Most PV systems will automatically shut off when the power goes out to ensure no energy is back-fed to the grid during an outage.

The reason for this is to protect utility linesmen from potential shock or electrocution who may be working on the lines to restore power. The only way to be able to run your home from solar when there is a power outage would be to have a battery backup system. Contact us today to learn more about battery backup system options and how to keep your lights on during an outage with solar energy.

How do I get the federal tax credit?

The federal government allows you to claim a 30 percent tax credit off of your solar power system costs.

If you do not expect to owe enough in taxes this year to claim the full credit, you can roll over your federal solar tax credit to the following year. You should consult your tax accountant with any questions, although most online e-filing services allow you to easily record your system cost and claim the tax credit. You don’t need to provide any payment receipts or supporting documentation unless requested specifically by the IRS. IRS Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, and instructions are located here.

What do I need to do to receive my incentive payment?

Each year Washington customers will need to sign off on a form prepared for you by their utility.

Check with your utility to see if they have any additional requirements such as self reporting your solar generation.

When do I receive my certification letter from the Washington Department of Revenue?

If you live in Washington State, the paperwork to the state Department of Revenue is filed by us on your behalf.

Typically, it takes about 30-45 days after your system is complete to receive your certification; your utility will receive a copy as well. You should keep this letter for your records.

Oregon doesn’t have this requirement.

When will my production meter be installed?

After your system is installed, we notify your utility to install your production meter.

Every utility varies in the time it takes them to come to your home and install it. Wait times can vary from a few days to more than a month. Some utilities allow your system to be turned on before the production meter is in place, while other utilities will not. The utility does not usually communicate to us if the meter has been placed, and you will often hear our project team ask to let them know when it is installed.

Some utilities in Oregon do not require production meters. We will let you know if you will be getting one or not.

My system is rated at X.XkW but I’m only seeing XkW production from it, what gives?

The nameplate rating of your system has to do with equipment that was tested in a controlled environment under standardized conditions.

Generally, your solar panels will produce no more than 80-90 percent of their rated output, even on their most productive days. Don’t worry, we’ve taken this into account! The production you are seeing today is different from the overall production that your system will produce throughout the year. Like any good solar installer, we include this variance in the design and estimation of the performance of your system.

” They handled all the city and state paperwork, educated us, presented a variety of product options without overwhelming us and came up with a design to maximize energy production that had eluded other bidders. “

JON, SEATTLE